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We spend most of our lives becoming. We are all on the quest to “become” the best and most relevant version of ourselves. For me, this becoming has been best exemplified by the music I have written.
This music, in it’s purest and most concise form is the mirror reflection of my becoming. Part of my of it has been the result of the processing of life’s trials and tribulations.
I have slowly learned to let go which, in itself, is a slow if not lifelong ordeal. Part of letting go means courting dignity and grace in the face of disappointments. And disappointments are many in the life of most musicians because unreserved intention and even talent do not guarantee success.
I have no idea why I have been so driven and relentless in creating my little tone poems, but something deep inside myself assures me that it is the best use of what talent and instincts God and nature have provided me with. It’s the best way I can serve the greater good during my time in this quaint old vale of tears.
As my wife often reminds me, “all you can do is all you can do.” All of this, of course, is an effort to, in some small way, best express what Maurice Ravel called, “life’s mysterious thrill.”
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was an Argentinian composer and bandoneon player. He was the father of “Nuevo Tango” or new tango. To say I love his music is understatement. There is a great sense of drama in his many compositions. Though tango is basically “music of the street,” Piazzolla took tango to new heights and hardcore tango enthusiasts didn’t (and some still don’t) take to the sophistication of his approach. He studied composition with the famed Nadia Boulanger in Paris and in his hands tango became “classic” music or “serious music.” (Though I don’t really like that term.) At any rate, if anyone doesn’t yet know about Piazzolla they are in for a real treat.
One of my favorite recordings of his music is by the guitar duo of the Assad Brothers. Sergio and Odair Assad are two virtuoso Brazilians of roughly the same vintage as myself, and Piazzolla wrote the Tango Suite with them specifically in mind.
I have written, in my own humble way, three pieces that are an homage to Piazzolla and Nuevo Tango. Those three pieces are “Astoria,” “Tango Blue,” and “Reverie.” All of which can be found at iTunes, Amazon or on disc at cdbaby or by going to reynold.com and perusing my discography.
I have come back to listening to Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) recently.
He was a Russian composer who thought he was a mystic and wrote a ton of piano music. He was a sort of Russian Chopin.
Harmonically he was ahead of his time. His music can be spooky, exhilarating and intense and, as I have read, is also pretty good description of his personality. I have heard his music described as “a sugar cube dissolving in a bitter cup of coffee” and “a cold wind through bleak moors.” Very interesting.
What do you think? Have you clicked the link to give him a listen?
I’ve been listening to a variety of music again these days. Here are a few I thought you might be interested in and some history about them.
Fritz Kreisler – Though he passed away more than 50 years ago and his prime recordings were done before 1940 I have to say that I am, none the less, a true believer. Kreisler was one of the last composer/virtuosos.
His warm tone and even vibrato express great character. His compositions also have this peculiar charm.
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Concertos-I love all five of them and especially the recording by pianist Michel Beroff with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Kurt Masur.
Melodically, rhythmically and harmonically Prokofiev’s music slays me and the piano concertos are especially effective. Prokofiev too was a composer/virtuoso.
Samson Francois (the complete piano works of Maurice Ravel)-Francois died at the early age of 46 in October, 1970. He lived an intense life and his virtuosity as a pianist extended to a keen interest in jazz. In 2013 box sets of his Ravel and Debussy recordings were released and they are a real treasure.
Anyone who knows me is familiar with my interest in Ravel. Since the age of 18 I have been collecting recordings and books on Ravel. I have about 20 different biographies and studies in English on this very French composer. I have visited his home in Montfort L’Amaury several times (it is now a museum). I have played his piano and I helped do some research for the museum by tracking down reviews and accounts of his concert in Minneapolis on his only U.S. tour in 1927. I did this research at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
December 28 marked the 79th anniversary of his death.
So what about you? What are you into as we head into 2017?